Surname Hovanyecz/Hovanetz/Chovanecz etc. origin

Surname Hovanyecz/Hovanetz/Chovanecz etc. origin

edited January 13 in Genealogy
I am looking to see where this surname with multiple spellings first originated.
My Greek Catholic (Rusyn) ancestors from southeastern Slovakia had this surname. So i am trying to find out where they migrated from before settling in whats now southeastern Slovakia in the 1700s or early 1800s.


  • Chovanec is a common slovak last name. I know a guy here in vienna who is from south of Nitra in west slovakia and he also has this last name. 
  • I understand that Chovanec is the Slovak spelling and Hovanyecz/Hovanetz is the Hungarian spelling like I have seen on my great grandffather's records, but I believe an ancestor of mine must have came from the Carpathian mountains area and am trying to locate where exactly. 
  • I'm curious to know if the surname is more popular in the Ukrainian part of the Carpathians or the southern Poland/Galicia part of the Carpathians. Hence that my people were Greek Catholics that settled in southern Zemplen County of Austria-Hungary probably in the early 1800s when the Turks were driven out the area. 
  • It's hard to say but in my opinion your ancestors were Rusyns or mixed.
  • edited January 15
    'Hovan' means 'hidden' in Ukrainian; it would seem that 'Hovanets' might mean 'the one who hides' or 'the one who was hidden' should the origin be from here somewhere.

    There's also a folklore entity called хованець in Ukrainian or chovaniec in Polish, a house spirit that could be either kind or mischievous; probably called this because he's always hiding. There was even a ritual of inviting a hovanets into one's house because people thought the beings could help you get richer.

    So the surname could very well be of Rusyn origin. 
    This is just for the sake of brainstorming though; the etymology could be different. 
  • saltycola
    Thank you for the explanation on the name.  I will add that someone told me it also meant something like "nurse child" or "adopted child".  For some reason the surname did not pass down my direct family line because my line was eventually dubbed the alias name "Pilisi". My great grandfather was born Janos Hovanyecz Pilisi in 1885.  Pilisi is still in the village today but spelled as Piliši. And Piliši doesn't even seem like a Slovak name. So that's been a mystery to me also.
  • edited January 15
    I don't know about Rusyn and Ukrainian, but in Slovak:
    Chovať = to "raise" or to feed (usually farm animals)
    Chovať sa =  to behave (colloquial term)
    Schovať [sa] = to hide [yourself] (colloquial term)
    Vychovať = to raise (a child)
    Pochovať = to bury (but also to caress) :D

    As you can see, the meaning of the word changes by adding different prefixes or word sa, which means self.
    The suffix -ť makes the verb infinitive.

    The word chovať means to raise in general, but today it's often used as "to raise animals" or "to feed animals". When we want to raise a child, we use vychovať instead. But the prefix vy- doesn't only change the meaning of the verb to something else, but it also says that the action the verb is referring to is already done. To make the verb "current", we add a suffix -va at the end, so it's vychovávať. The suffix -va usually describes that the action the verb is referring to is being done on a regular basis or repeatedly, but that's what we use when we want to say "to raise a child". :D

    I don't know the exact etymology of the name Chovanec.

    Thank you for 5 minutes of your life and for expanding your knowledge about the great language of Slovak, which you'll forget in the next 5 minutes. :D
  • edited January 16
    there's a mountain and a town in Hungary called Pilis and pronounced Pilish; perhaps it's a lead 
    also, 's' and 'sh' end up interchangeable in some cases
  • Yes I have read about the town Pilis but I'm pretty sure none of my Rusyn Hovanyecz ancestors came from there. It seems too far from my ancestral village Veľká Tŕňa.
    I also know there is a hill in nearby village of Bara called "kopec Piliš".
  • edited January 16
    yeah; I meant that perhaps the etymology is Hungarian
    there used to be a Cistercian abbey on the border between Slovakia and Hungary in the XII century, called Pilis, not too far from Veľká Tŕňa according to the map
    so perhaps your ancestors could've had some connection with it

    I'm no expert here though
    just brainstorming

    here's a curious link with some musings on the etymology of pilis: (it's in Hungarian, but you can put it into Google Translate)

    also found an explanation that says Pilis goes back to Slavic plěšь, which means 'bald head', a common name for mountains and hills without vegetation on the top (like Lysa Hora etc.); the Russian equivalent would be the word плешь (plesh) then
    so if this is the case one of your ancestors might've been bald :smile:
  • It makes me wonder why if the folks in Veľká Tŕňa were Slovakized then why not change the Hungarian form of Pilisi to the Slovak form/word Plešky haha. I do believe that "pilis" means bald land of no vegetation. So the Slovak word that means that is "pleš" I think.
  • edited January 16
    AFAIK, pleš is used only for bald spots in hair. I don't know how people used this word ages ago.
    But there is a Czech city called Plzeň. I thought it could be a cognate. Here is the etymology of name Plzeň (in Czech):
    Původní sídlo pojmenováno po jednom z nejstarších přemyslovských správních hradů, který střežil dálkovou cestu z Čech do Bavorska (poprvé připomínán k roku 976 jako Pilisin, z dalších podob doloženo in Plizeni (993), in Plizen (1109), de Plzen (1167).[1] Základem tohoto jména je praslovanské pьlz (mokvající, slizký, srovnej se staročeským plzěti — mokvat, vlhnout).[1] To odkazuje na lokalitu ve vlhkém terénu.[1] (Zaznamenáno je mimo jiné kázání Mistra Hilaria Litoměřického, který v chrámu sv. Bartoloměje v Plzni v roce 1467 prohlásil, že město bylo založené „na místě pro hojnost vod poněkud kluzkém“.[1])
    The first bold word is the first mentioned name of the city. The second bold word is the old Slavic word the name comes from. The meaning of the word is slippery, wet... something like that. It refers to a wet terrain, probably swamp and the like.
  • edited January 16
    @Kapitán Denis
    In Russian and Ukrainian, плес/плесо (ples/pleso) stands for a river stream. The Russian word плеск (plesk) means splash. And apparently 'pleso' also means 'lake' in some Slavic languages.
    So 'wet terrain' is another option, yeah
  • @saltycola In Slovak, pleso means "mountain lake". Plesk means splash too.
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